I have always loved Jessica Drew’s character. Spider-Woman is a cool character who deserves some attention given the sales success of all things Peter Parker. The Spider-Man franchise is important to Marvel as it is one of its strongest brands. It makes sense to take advantage of this and try and gain some exposure for Jessica.
Now, while I am thrilled that Jessica is getting a new comic but this is Marvel that we are talking about. And it seems that Marvel often snatches defeat from the jaws of victory when it comes to female lead titles. So, I am tempering my expectations as to not set them too high.
The creative team for Spider-Woman is a mixed bag. Karla Pacheco does not have much of a writing pedigree. Nothing Pacheco has done has either impressed me that much or sold well in the comic charts. Luckily, Pacheco is paired with Pere Pérez who is an excellent artist. So, we know that, if nothing else, we are going to get a good looking comic book.
Kevin has already written an excellent review for Spider-Woman #1. I highly encourage you to read it. Kevin enjoys the issue more than me and you may agree with him, too. That is the great thing about The Revolution. We are committed to honest opinions while still respecting contrasting opinions. In the end, we here at The Revolution will leave it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Karla Pacheco
Pencils: Pere Pérez
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Jessica (in a dull-looking new costume) beating up some goons. She talks about how she was an Avenger, a spy and is a mom. She says she has always tried to do good.
We cut back to ten minutes earlier. Spider-Woman is at a party for the teenage daughter of Michael Marchand who is a billionaire owner of a pharmaceutical company. The party is on a yacht. Jessica is irritated by the teens. The teens are all dressed up in costumes of various Marvel superheroes. Jessica thinks about how she feels sick right now. A teenage girl in the iconic Spider-Woman costume calls Jessica’s costume “terrible.” (Ah, nothing like being defensive about a costume change and immediately going on the attack on any dissenting views.)
We then see the birthday girl come out. Her name is Rebecca and she is in a wheelchair. Michael unveils a brand new sports car that he has purchased for his daughter as a birthday gift. The daughter comments that the car has not been adapted to be handicapped accessible. Michael says that she won’t need on that has been adapted because he is going to find a cure for her.
Suddenly, the goons from the first page of this comic appear on the boat. Spider-Woman springs to action and starts beating up the goons. Spider-Woman shows offer her fighting prowess by kicking lots of ass. During the battle, Spider-Woman thinks about how she is supposed to be protecting Rebecca. But, this does not feel like protecting. That this feels like rage. That this feels wrong.
Spider-Woman tells everyone to go down below deck. A boy in a Deadpool costume comments that he knew he should not have come to “this stupid cripple’s birthday party.” (BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Really?! I am to believe that a kid at this party would say something like this?! Ooooookay.) The boy says that his parents are going to sue everyone. (….Sue them for what? Because criminals attacked them? This makes no sense.)
Spider-Woman then throws the kid overboard and then tosses him a lifesaver. (Yeah…now this would be something that could definitely open Jessica up to a lawsuit.)
More goons show up and Spider-Woman quickly dispatches them. Spider-Woman feels a pain in her head and asks what is wrong with herself. The goons then decide to bail and all jump overboard into their small getaway boat.
Spider-Woman then jumps into the sports car and wonders where Michael put the keys. She notes the car is electric and says, “Nice.” (Well…You still have the ethical problems concerning the mining of the materials that make the batteries. Then you have the emissions problems from the electrical plants that provide the power to charge the batteries. Then you have the environmental issues concerning the disposal/recycling of the batteries. But, whatever. Go on with your talking points.)
Spider-Woman drives the car over the side of the yacht, jumps out of it and it crash-lands into the boat and causes a massive explosion. (How did any of the goons survive an explosion this size? We saw then beginning to jump out of the boat right before the car hit it. But, an explosion that big? They should all be dead making Jessica a murderer.)
Michael and Rebecca come back out onto the deck. We see a helicopter arrive on the scene and armed gunmen order everyone to get down. Spider-Woman asks just how many people want to kidnap Michael’s daughter? The gunmen appear to be French and Jessica begins obsessing over the fact of why it had to be French gunmen. (Oooookay.)
Spider-Woman then dives off the side of the yacht and swims under the yacht. One of the gunmen hops onto the deck. The gunman grabs Rebecca and tells her to come with him. Rebecca collapses in his grasp and asks if he knows who he is kidnapping Rebecca says that she cannot move her legs. The gunman acts surprised. (Really? The kidnappers are so highly organized and well funded that they can do a kidnapping by air but none of them know that their target cannot walk? Riiiiight.)
We see Spider-Woman climbing up the side of the yacht with the anchor in her hand. The teenage boy in the Deadpool costume says that they are all going to die. Spider-Woman says that they are not going to die. The boy then says what does Spider-Woman know? That “you’re a guh-girl.” Spider-Woman responds by saying what year does the boy thing this is? (Yeah….I am not buying that in modern-day America that a teenage boy is going to call Spider-Woman a “girl” and imply that she is useless. This may work if….it was the 1950s. Maybe. Even then, I am unsure anyone in any time period is calling a super-powered badass who just took down a bunch of goons “just a girl.” But, hey, don’t let logic get in the way of your talking points!)
Spider-Woman throws the anchor up and around the tail of the helicopter and then pulls it into the water. (That is pretty badass.) Spider-Woman then takes the teen-age boy and tells him that if she ever hears him say “cripple” or sexist shit again that she will toss him by his balls. (I am guessing on part of that since the dialogue was censored at points.) Spider-Woman throws the boy into the gunman. (Yeah…I get that Pacheco made this teen-age boy a laughably bad walking cartoonish stereotype, but you just cannot have an adult who is supposed to be a hero committing physical violence against a child. Especially when the child’s only crime is that they are being snarky. You just cannot. Period.)
Spider-Woman then curses some more and slams the gunman’s head into a railing. Spider-Woman then uses her stinger blast to run an electrical current up the anchor chain and causing the helicopter to explode and crash. (That is also pretty badass.)
Michale approaches Spider-Woman who says that she has not been feeling quite right. Suddenly, Jessica throws up a bunch of green vomit. Jessica collapses to the ground. Michael asks if Jessica needs a doctor. Jessica says that she needs a nurse. (Night Nurse to be exact!)
We then flashback to two weeks earlier. Jessica is rocking her iconic outfit. (That looks sooooooo much better and more unique.) Jessica finishes up a mission with Strikeforce. Jessica then gets a notification on her iPhone that her bank account is overdrawn. Jessica asks her teammates for twenty bucks. We cut to Jessica riding in a taxi car with her head in her hands. Once the cab’s bill gets close to $20.00, Jessica tells the cabbie to pull over and she will walk.
We shift to Jessica arriving at home. (Her home looks like an abandoned warehouse.) Roger is chasing down Jessica’s baby who is crawling the ceiling. Roger asks if Jessica would want to go back to being a private detective. Jessica says that all the inquiries she gets online are basically mercenary jobs.
Jessica then decides to meet with Michael about his inquiry to have her protect his daughter’s birthday party. Jessica then says that she is not going to do the job in her costume. That it would not fee right. (Ummmmm…okay. A different costume is okay, though? I am not following the logic.)
We zip to Jessica at Big Ronnie’s Custom Battle Spandex. We see Jessica in her new outfit. (The new outfit looks like a mash-up of Miles’ costume and Silk’s costume. It is dull and boring.)
Jessica asks if Big Ronnie takes payment plans. Ronnie says “No” but then sees a phone call coming in on her iPhone that makes Ronnie change her tune. Ronnie says that they can work something out.
Jessica leaves the store with her new costume. We see Ronnie on the phone with the mysterious caller. The caller tells Ronnie that she will be rewarded for giving Jessica the new costume for free. Ronnie comments that the material given to her to make Jessica’s costume is remarkable. The mysterious person says that the material was intended for one person alone and now she finally has it. We see that the mysterious person is tracking Jessica’s location, heart rate, body temperature, etc through the new costume. End of issue.
The Good: Spider-Woman #1 was disappointing. This issue was predictable in all of its failings. This seems to be a continuing habit for Marvel with many of their new titles these days. Having said that, there were some positive aspects to Spider-Woman #1.
The biggest positive aspect of Spider-Woman #1 is all of the badass action. Pacheco kept the action coming early and often. To be sure, Spider-Woman #1 is not a boring read. Pacheco wisely allowed Jessica to flex her muscles and show off her powers and abilities in several excellent action scenes.
This is important for two reasons. First, this tells the reader that they can expect a fair amount of action on Spider-Woman going forward. This issue signals that Spider-Woman is going to focus on being a traditional action first superhero hero title. Second, the action allows Pacheco to establish Jessica’s powers and skills for the new readers who are unfamiliar with her character.
Now, I love action, but what I even love more is when writers deliver creative and wild over-the-top action moments. And Pacheco definitely does that with Spider-Woman #1. We get some awesomely insane scenes like Jessica driving a car off a yacht to blow up the bad guys’ boat. We also got the crazy cool moment of Jessica using an anchor and chain to conduct the currents of her energy blast to blow up a helicopter. These are some massive larger-than-life blockbuster movie type moments. I love it when writers take advantage of the fact that there is no budget limiting their stories when it comes to comic books. That the writer can make the action as big and insane as they want. And Pacheco definitely does that with Spider-Woman #1.
While the story to Spider-Woman #1 is simple and shallow, Pacheco does deserve credit for introducing a mysterious figure as the main villain for the opening story arc. While Jessica’s new costume design is unimpressive and bland, the idea that the costume is tracking her location and bodily functions is pretty cool. I am interested to learn the identity of this mysterious villain. This is a good job by Pacheco in installing the main antagonist while keeping them shrouded in mystery in order to keep the reader interested in coming back for more.
Of course, the clear star of the show is Pere Pérez’s artwork. Spider-Woman #1 is a brilliant looking issue. Pérez takes Pacheco’s thin and unoriginal story and injects incredible life into it. Pérez is equally adept at drawing dialogue-heavy scenes as he is at delivering the action scenes. And Pérez can deliver some phenomenal looking action scenes! The fighting leaps off the page at the reader.
I also appreciate how well Pérez is able to draw the facial expressions of the various characters. This helps compensate for the lack of character work and generic dialogue in this issue. Pérez is able to give the characters life with his art alone.
And, I would be remiss if I did not applaud Pérez for sneaking in a fantastic butt shot during the scene at Big Ronnie’s shop. Score one for those battling against the repressive Victorian Era styled censors.
Pérez also kills it when drawing Jessica in her classic and iconic costume. Spider-Woman has never looked better.
The Bad: Once you get past the excellent action, the fact remains that Spider-Woman #1 is a shallow read that offers a generic story. This issue feels rather wrote and never rises above being a pedestrian superhero story. There is nothing particularly unique or creative at all about Spider-Woman #1. Pacheco does nothing to make Spider-Woman #1 stand out from all of the other superhero titles already crowding the shelves.
This is a debut issue of a new title and Pacheco does very few of the necessary tasks that such an issue must carry out. There is no call to action with Spider-Woman #1. Pacheco does nothing unique or special to convince the reader that they should come back for more.
It is vitally important that a writer clear set out the setting for the new title and to show the reader the titular character’s world. Pacheco completely fails in this task. Readers have zero concept of the setting for the Spider-Woman franchise. Pacheco delivers no world-building for Jessica’s world. The backdrop for Spider-Woman’s world is completely lacking.
Another important task of a debut issue of a new title is to clearly establish the supporting cast for the main character. Again, Pacheco fails in this task. The reader not only has little sense of Jessica’s world, but they also have little knowledge of the cast members in Jessica’s world. Pacheco never gives the reader the name of Jessica’s child. Pacheco never introduces Roger or gives the reader any information at all about his character.
At this point, those are the only two supporting characters and Pacheco does absolutely nothing to give the reader a sense of who these characters are and what important role they play in Jessica’s life. Most popular franchises like Peter Parker’s Spider-Man have always relied on a strong supporting cast that is well fleshed out. Pacheco does a swing and a miss with Spider-Woman #1 in this essential task.
While Pacheco does deliver entertaining action, this is merely a smokescreen to distract the reader from the fact that there is zero actual substance to the story. Pacheco’s story is shallow. We get the one plot-line involving the mysterious villain who is tracking Jessica’s costume and obviously controlling her mood and physical sensations. But, outside of that? Nothing. There is very little content to Spider-Woman #1 for the reader to sink their teeth into. The lack of depth and complexity to the story makes it hard for the reader to get immersed in the story. Everything happens on the surface. As a result, the reader never becomes invested in the story.
Along with a thin story is the fact that Pacheco delivers zero character work. None of the characters display anything that resembles a unique personality. To make matters even more complicated is the fact that Pacheco also delivers dialogue that is pedestrian at best. All of the characters speak in the same generic voice. The complete lack of character work and bland dialogue make the shallow story that much less interesting. This all combines to make Spider-Woman #1 an issue that the reader never becomes invested in any of the characters and never really cares to come back for more.
Pacheco’s take on Jessica is unimpressive. Pacheco delivers a rather bland version of Jessica. Compounding the problem is that Pacheco decides to kick off this new Spider-Woman title with Jessica clearly under the influence of her new costume that is causing her to act irrationally and aggressively. The problem with this approach is that new readers have zero idea of what is Jessica’s regular personality. Instead, new readers immediately get introduced to a version of Jessica who comes across as an unlikeable jerk. It would have been far wiser to clearly get across Jessica’s personality and quickly establish her as a likable character for new readers. Then, Pacheco could introduce a personality shift due to the costume and it would have far more impact on new readers.
Pacheco also does the standard-issue signaling that has become commonplace in many new Marvel titles. Now, social commentary absolutely has a place in any story. Of course, that is when it is done in a logical fashion that enhances the story and provides an intelligent and thought-provoking experience for the reader. On the other hand, when it is awkwardly shoved into a story for no reason and lacks internal logic and seems to pander then it simply pulls the reader out of the story and induces more eye-rolling from the reader than it does thoughtful introspection.
Overall: Spider-Woman #1 was a disappointing read. Action fans will certainly enjoy the fighting in this issue. But, outside of that? There is nothing of substance to this issue. The lack of anything original or compelling makes Spider-Woman #1 quickly disappear into the mass of other superhero titles already on the market. Keep in mind that the price of entry for Spider-Woman #1 is $5.00. There is simply no way in the world I could recommend anyone spending that much money for so little in return. There are way too many other superhero titles already on the market that offer far superior reads for your money.
To comment on this article and other Comic Book Revolution content, visit our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, and our Instagram feed. Also, catch up with all of Rokk’s other musings about comics, anime, TV shows, movies and more over on his Twitter page.